Terre Haute City Council votes down old YMCA project tax abatement

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) Since 2006, the YMCA on the corner of 6th and Walnut Streets has been closed, leaving a large empty building near the downtown area. A business was looking to buy the property and turn it into affordable living apartments, but the project is now up in the air. That’s because Thursday night the Terre Haute City Council chose not to approve an abatement. That action could cause problems for the people behind the project. 

“This is a setback but I’m hopeful we can figure out a way to work together to put the pieces together in a way that works for the council and community,” Commonwealth Companies Vice President of Development Kevin McDonell said.  

5 of the 9 on the council voted against a proposed tax abatement for Commonwealth Companies.  

“it’s great disappointment that the city council choose not to see this project move forward,” Indiana Landmark Director Tommy Kleckersaid. “This was an opportunity to see a significant historic building be developed, a significant investment.”  

The company was seeking a 10-year abatement so it could turn the old YMCA building at the corner of 6th and Walnut into affordable apartments.  

With the abatement the company projected they’d pay 170,000 dollars in taxes over the ten years with a savings of 170,000 dollars.  

The apartments would cost approximately 6 hundred dollars to rent and would have served residents with low to moderate incomes. 

“There’s a severe lack of workforce housing in this county,” McDonell said. “There’s not one county in the entire United States that you can live in and make minimum wage and afford to live.”  

With new projects like the Convention center, coming downtown, some city council members say they were considering the best interest of the city and its residents.  

“I didn’t like that there was a lot of apartment owners that are concerned that they’d be subsidizing their competitor especially when they are telling me that they have a lot of empty space right now,” Terre Haute City Council member Karrum Nasser said. “So that would just be adding more competition and more vacant properties.”   

Officials with the project also received money from the Indiana housing and community development authority specifically to build the apartments.     

However, Thursday nights decision by the council puts that funding in jeopardy.   

Project officials now plan to work with the community and city leaders to see if the project has a future. 

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